Driving to Monteverde: Best Routes and Road Conditions

Updated: February 2, 2020

Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s most unique destinations. This humble mountain town, best known for its cloud forests, is far removed from any other tourist spot. And because it sits on its own, how to get there is often a topic of interest or even concern. Indeed, driving to Monteverde is an adventure, but it can be fun if you are prepared. In this post, we’ll give you directions for the two most common routes to Monteverde, tell you what road conditions to expect, and give you rental car tips.


Driving to Monteverde, Costa Rica: Best Routes and Road Conditions

Driving to Monteverde from San Jose or Pacific Coast Destinations

If you are driving to Monteverde from San Jose or the Pacific Coast (e.g., Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Samara, or elsewhere in Guanacaste), the best and most commonly traveled road is Route 606. Route 606 starts at the Inter-Americana Highway (Highway 1) and is marked by a gas station called Rancho Grande. Once you get on Route 606, the drive to Santa Elena and Monteverde is about 36 km (22 miles) and takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

IMPORTANT ROAD CONSTRUCTION UPDATE (February 2020): Starting in early January 2018, they began the process of paving the rest of Route 606 (from the town of Guacimal to Santa Elena). This was a huge undertaking and the road was detoured on and off for about 2 years. We are happy to report that the last time we drove this stretch, it was completely paved all the way until Santa Elena (Monteverde). Read more below.


Route 606 Road Conditions 

From Route 1 (at the Rancho Grande gas station), Route 606 is now paved all the way to downtown Santa Elena. The two-lane road winds through the town of Guacimal before becoming very rural. The road can be extremely curvy at times and you will gain elevation as you go. As you get higher, there are some fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and rolling farm fields.


Driving to Monteverde, Costa Rica: Best Routes and Road Conditions
Route 606 – this section is now paved as of 2020


There are some sharp curves, potholes, narrow spots, and steep cliffs or rocky embankments. During the rainy months (May through November), small landslides or washouts can block or partially block the road. Road crews usually open things back up within hours, though. It is best to avoid this road at night because there are very few guardrails and visibility can be poor due to clouds or rain. During the day, the drive is beautiful and you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean from some viewpoints.

Here is a short video we took driving to Monteverde on Route 606 to give you an idea. Note that this video was taken before the road became paved. However, still give you an idea of the curves, elevation gain, and views.


Driving to Monteverde from La Fortuna or Lake Arenal

Many people visiting Monteverde also go to La Fortuna to see Arenal Volcano and enjoy the hot springs. If you are driving to Monteverde from La Fortuna or Lake Arenal, the best roads are Route 142 to Tilaran, then Route 145 to 606. This drive takes about 3.5-4 hours (from La Fortuna) and is along a mix of paved and dirt roads.

Route 142 Road Conditions  

From La Fortuna, Route 142 is a paved road that goes all the way around Lake Arenal (about 1.5 hours). It’s a curvy but very scenic road with green hills and surrounding jungle. Along the way, you’ll pass some cool wind turbines and a few tasty restaurants. On the other side of the lake, Route 142 goes farther west to the small city of Tilaran. In Tilaran, you’ll get off Route 142 (road will go slightly left) and go through town to connect with Route 145.

Tip: There are two opportunities to get gas on this drive, one in Nuevo Arenal and the other in Tilaran. Between Tilaran and Monteverde, there are no other gas stations.

Route 145 and 606 Road Conditions

After you’ve gone around the lake and through Tilaran, you’ll connect with Route 145. This road is paved leaving Tilaran, but after a short drive, turns to dirt. Once you get out of Tilaran, start looking for the ‘Y’ in the road. At this intersection, it will seem like you should stay on the paved road, but you’ll actually go right to stay on Route 145, which is dirt. The drive along Route 145, which then turns into 606, will take 1.5-2 hours. It passes farm pastures, coffee fields, and even some waterfalls.


Driving to Monteverde, Costa Rica: Best Routes and Road Conditions
Route 145 – note the huge rut off to the left


Overall, the road is hilly with some larger rocks and pot holes to maneuver around. This makes the ride very bumpy and slow. There are a few sections that are steep and narrow, including a one-lane bridge with some intimidating drop-offs on each side. During the rainy season, expect more mud and ruts. When we drove it in July one year, the road was very muddy at one point. There was a giant rut that looked like a car had recently gotten stuck, and some marks from a tractor pulling it out.

Only drive this road in the daylight since visibility can be limited by rain or fog and there are no guardrails. There are only a few towns along the way too, in case you break down or get stuck. Also be sure to look carefully for the (sometimes small) signs to Monteverde, as the road branches off in several spots. We recommend cross-referencing your GPS as you go.

Here is a short video we took driving to Monteverde on Routes 145 and 606 from Tilaran.   


Rental Car Tips

If you are planing to visit both Monteverde and La Fortuna, road conditions change constantly throughout the year on Route 145 and the other side of Route 606. One day, the road might be fine, and another, it could be a muddy mess after a big storm. Crews grade the roads periodically as well, which can make a big difference.

Since it can be hard to know what to expect for your visit, we recommend a vehicle with 4-wheel drive year-round. Although during the drier months (December to April), it is often possible to make the trip without one, you won’t know exactly what you’ll be in for until you get there. If you do opt to skip 4×4 during the dry season, you will still want an SUV with higher clearance so that the ride is not as rough. In the rainier months (May to November), a 4×4 is highly recommended because road conditions can change quickly with heavy rain.

If you are visiting Monteverde via Route 606 only, a 4×4 rental car should not be necessary. However, you may wish you get one if you plan to explore the area, as some of the roads leading to activities (e.g. zip-lining, hanging bridges) are still dirt and can get slippery. 

If you haven’t rented a car yet, check out our Rental Car Discount to save some money and get a discount on a GPS.


As you can see from our videos and pictures, driving to Monteverde can be an adventurous experience. Hopefully this post has eased your worries and prepared you for the beautiful ride.

Post Updated: February 5, 2020

Have you driven to Monteverde lately? We’d love to hear your report. When did you go and how were the roads? Leave a comment below. 

Looking for more info to plan your trip? Check out these posts:

Driving in Costa Rica – Not all roads are as rugged as the ones going to Monteverde but there is still a lot to know about driving in Costa Rica. Read our Driving post for more info.  

La Fortuna: What to Expect – If you are heading to La Fortuna before or after your time in Monteverde, check out our guide first. Includes activities, restaurants, and hotels.

Monteverde Hotel Guide – Don’t get bogged down by the wide range of lodging options in Monteverde and Santa Elena. Check out our picks for some of the best in town.  



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  1. We took 606 to Monteverde from the west this past June 2016 and found it to be just fine. We were in a rental SUV with four wheel drive. We also drove the mostly unpaved road to La Fortuna and found the drive to be no problem as well. Sure it is curvy and bumpy with potholes, muddy during the rains, etc… but it forces you to go slow and enjoy the trip. We are from Northern California and also spend a lot of time camping in North America in remote locations so we are used to narrow, winding and sometimes unpaved roads so that might have been why we weren’t stressed out. We found the drives in general on unpaved roads in Costa Rica to be much easier and less stressful than most guidebooks and websites have suggested. Hope this info helps 🙂

    1. Hi- we are thinking of renting a car and driving from Playa Santa Teresa to Monteverde. I saw you posted that route 606 was being paved from March-Dec 2018. Do you know if that work is done now? Will it be doable to drive? Thanks!

        1. In 5 days, will we be able to drive from Alajuela to Poas volcano, spend night, drive to Arenal Nar.Prk, spend 2 nights, then drive to San Jose-spend night and drive to Jayco beach?

          1. Hi Janeene, That is a little rushed but possible. We might skip Poas Volcano since it is hard to access now (there is a formal online ticketing system to navigate) and head straight to La Fortuna. We’d also drive straight from Arenal to Jaco. No need to stop in San Jose in between.

    2. We just did this drive a few days ago and the road is now mostly paved all the way to Monteverde. There are some patches that are still dirt and some roadwork still going on but I would say 95% of it is paved now and the drive is not so bad at all. We did it in just under 3.5 hours from Manuel Antonio.

        1. Hi Yaara,

          By any chance did you also happen to drive between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde? And how is the condition of that section of the road?


  2. Hi Guys,
    We recently traveled the roads you mentioned (July 3 – La Fortuna to Monteverde) and we’re glad the rental car guy strongly suggested a SUV with 4wd. My first instinct was to say no, thinking this was an up sale, but something in my head said yes, so we took the SUV. During this trip, we only saw a couple of other vehicles on the dirt roads and felt very isolated. Although we didn’t need the 4wd, it was reassuring to have a SUV with higher clearance and 4wd capabilities. On July 7, we drove from Monteverde to Tamarindo. The night before, it rained and some portions of the road were in very poor condition with deep ruts, tons of mud and rocks. To make matters worse, there were a handful of dump trucks on the road which made conditions very bad.
    For those folks considering driving the dirt roads, you’ll be glad to have a SUV with 4wd, even if you don’t use it.

    1. Peggy and Glen, Thank you so much for your detailed trip reports. They are very helpful, especially to see how conditions changed from June to July. We totally agree about the 4×4 and higher clearance. We’re from Maine originally and also lived in Vermont so have driven on some slightly hairy back roads, but we still like having 4×4 to get around the rougher parts of Costa Rica, just in case.

  3. Fantastic post. I have been trying to find this information everywhere and it has helped enormously. Particularly about 606 which, going by some reports, was scheduled to be paved all the way by now. Clearly not! The videos have shown what words can’t describe.

    Most resources say to double times that Google Maps gives you – I see you haven’t been that pessimistic! But time isn’t too much of a factor for me anyway.

    1. Hi Rob, Yes they have been talking about paving 606 for a while now, but projects like that tend to take years in Costa Rica so it probably won’t happen for a while.

      It could take a bit longer than what we’ve said if the roads are in really bad shape but probably never double Google. It may be that Google has gotten better info over the years. We have noticed that it is starting to know the really bad roads to avoid in CR. Thanks for reading!

  4. Jenn and Matt, great site and very helpful info. We are heading to SJO over thanksgiving. The plan is to arrive in SJO and drive to Monteverde in a 4×4. We should have our rental car by 2pm so figured it’s late to head to Monteverde the same day, but it would be nice to do some of the driving the same evening and stay on our way there rather than in SJO. Could you recommend a town we could stay in for that night?

    1. Hi Mavis, Stopping somewhere to overnight a little outside San Jose is a really good idea. There are some scenic towns not too far that would show you a different part of Costa Rica than you’ll experience in Monteverde and allow you to get a bit of driving in.

      Your best option is probably Atenas. It’s about 45 minutes from SJO with traffic (there aren’t too many towns with hotels after that until you’re closer to Monteverde). Atenas is surrounded by coffee fields and also has a cute downtown complete with a typical Costa Rican central park. We’ve stayed there a couple of times and really liked Apartamentos Atenas (little bungalows surrounded by flowering gardens and a pool). Another popular choice is Atenas Vista B&B. This is higher in the hills so has really nice views. Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      1. Thank you so much for your response and recommendations. I see most folks drive from Arenal/La Fortuna to Monte Verde and not the other way around. Is it because the drive is less cumbersome? or the route going east is better?

        1. I think it’s just because they have their itinerary set up that way. A lot of people coming from San Jose do La Fortuna first because their next destination after Monteverde is at the beach (Manuel Antonio or somewhere in Guanacaste is common). That order makes the most sense since it avoids backtracking. The drive between them is the same either way though.

    2. Great review!! I will be heading to Monteverde this weekend. I will let you know guys how the road is. Also I rented a 4×4 Daihatsu Bego, it was a good deal. Its $50.00 per day with full insurance coverage. I rented in Adobe Rent a car FYI.

    3. I have about the same situation, except I will be landing in Liberia at 1:30 PM on Dec, 27. Is that too late to drive to Monteverde that same day? Or should we too find a place to stay on the way?

      1. Hi Stephen, If you don’t have any delays, it is possible to make it there before dark. Liberia airport is smaller so it’s usually faster to get through. If all goes well, you could be on the road around 2:30 or 3 and be in Monteverde around 5 or 5:30. Keep in mind, though, that you will still have to shuttle to the rental car office and it will likely be busy with traffic because of the holidays, so things could take longer than normal. The last stretch on Route 606 is what you don’t want to be driving in the dark. Normally, we would say to wait and see how it goes and stay overnight only if you need to, but since you’re traveling during peak season, you would want to reserve a hotel in advance. There aren’t too many scenic areas on the way until you get closer to Lake Arenal, but people like Hacienda La Pacifica. It’s about 45 min from the airport, right off the highway but feels more remote as it’s set in the countryside. It’s also very close to a really nice waterfall called Llanos de Cortezs and Las Pumas Rescue Center. For something closer to the airport, the Hilton is a good choice.

  5. Thank you for your very detailed and clear instructions! When looking at La Fortuna to Monteverde direction, I saw an option of taking a 2.5hr taxi-boat-taxi for 25$/pers. Have you heard anything about it and if yes, what’s your take on it?

    1. Hi Maria, The Jeep-Boat-Jeep ride, which actually uses shuttle vans instead of Jeeps, is a popular way to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde. It’s a nice option because it cuts out some of the driving and you get to enjoy a scenic ride across Lake Arenal (Costa Rica’s largest lake) for part of it. We recently started booking transportation for people so if you would like any help choosing a company, let us know. You can send your trip details to bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com.

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt

        This boat/jeep option looks like a good alternative to my planned self-driven trip up to Monteverde from La Fortuna.

        I want to be at Selvatura in time for 11.00 booking, would this option be possible?



        1. Hi Shaun, The boat/Jeep option takes about 3 hours total so you would need to find one that leaves fairly early. The options we know of leave at 8:30 but other times may be available.

      2. Hi! Your site is wonderful!! I’ve been hearing about the boat option from La Fortuna to Monteverde but can’t picture how it’s done if there’s a rental car involved. Also I read you could rent a bike, ride to the boat and then head to Monteverder- but I’m assuming not with a Rental car. I just can’t find any details. Thanks!

        1. Hi Liz, That is the van-boat-van option (sometimes caller Jeep-Boat-Jeep), where you get picked up at your hotel in La Fortuna by a van that shuttles you to Lake Arenal. You then board a boat and cut across the lake, saving a lot of time since you don’t have to drive all the way around. Another van then picks you up on the other side and brings you to your hotel in Monteverde. If you have a rental car, You would want to return it in La Fortuna beforehand. The ferry is just a small boat; they don’t hold cars.

          We know of a very reliable company that does this trip and would be happy to help you with the booking. Just reply to this thread and we can email you with more information.

          Not sure about the bicycling option but it could exist, though I’m not sure what would happen with your bags. Probably better to do a bike tour around the lake separately if that’s something you’re interested in.

          1. Hi we are staying at Royal Corin on May 22nd 2019 and then Monteverde Lodge and Gardens on May 23 and possibly 24th. We are interested in the Jeep-Boat-Jeep return option you mention since are nervous about driving the roads. Can you provide details on this?

  6. Hi,
    Thanks for all the great info. I have an upcoming trip – landing at 1pm at SJO Dec 31st. I plan on getting a prepaid SIM on arrival before exiting the airport. My first destination is La Fortuna, do you think I should be able to pick up the car (Adobe) and make it to La Fortuna before sunset? Also, would you happen to know if the car is available at the Airport or would I need to take a trip to somewhere in San Jose for the car? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Patrick, Getting through immigration, getting the SIM card, and picking up the rental car will take around 1.5-2 hrs. The drive to La Fortuna is about 3 hours so as long as you don’t have any majors delays, you should be able to get there right before dark, which happens at about 5:45. Just don’t plan on making any stops because you don’t want to be driving Route 702 at night. (Here’s a link to our post on road conditions on the different routes in Costa Rica if you haven’t seen it).

      All the rental car companies, including Adobe, have offices a few miles from the airport. The way Adobe handles this is, they have a rep waiting for you outside baggage claim holding a sign with your name. Right before you exit the airport you’ll see a few companies with kiosks- just walk past them, go outside, and look for the rep in a blue Adobe shirt. They will then take you in their shuttle van to their office to pick up the car and do the paperwork. The process is pretty quick. Hope that gives you some insight. Have a great trip!

  7. I love your blogs! It has been very helpful for me planning my trip later this month. We will be in La Fortuna and then want to drive to Manuel Antonio and I see two different ways to go. One way goes toward San Jose and the other goes toward Monteverde. We rented a 4 wheel drive car and I would like to drive through Monteverde area since we will not have enough time to see it. Do you know how the roads are there now? Do you or don’t you recommend that way? Thanks.

    1. Hi Lori, You will want to go on Route 702 to San Ramon then connect to Route 1 going towards the coast and Esperanza. It looks like this area is part of Monteverde, but Monteverde is actually farther west and accessible by a different road. You really can’t drive to Monteverde for a day trip, unfortunately, because the roads getting there are rough dirt and slow. If you want more info on what the roads are like, we have a post with details on all the major routes: Road Conditions on Specific Routes in Costa Rica.

  8. First I want to say thank you very much for having an awesome blog for people to comment. You’re making my anxiety calm down a bit ;). My girlfriend and I will be landing into SJO @ 12pm on Thursday (11/17/16)and then making the trek up to La Fortuna.

    Do you think this is enough time to avoid rain/nighttime? If so, which route do you suggest?

    And if anyone has any rain/road updates as of this week it would be so so appreciated.

    Thank you so much in advance!

    – slightly anxious San Diegan – Paul

    1. Hi Paul, You should have enough time. Getting through the airport and picking up the car should take no more than 2 hours then it’s about another 3 to La Fortuna. It could be rainy but will be light out so just go slow and you should be fine. You will take Route 1 towards San Ramon then connect to Route 702. We have a post about what the conditions are like on these roads here if you want a better sense of what to expect. That is a well traveled route so there should be plenty of other cars to follow. Try not to worry and have a great trip!

  9. Hello Jen & Matt,

    Amazing article.! Have been looking for this details so we can plan our trip to Monteverde. We will be driving from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde early morning via Highway 1 and then 606. I read an article which says the road is open only on specific time see below:
    “The road is open only during the following times: before 6:30am, between 9:30-9:50am,
    between 12:12:30pm, between 3:00-3:30pm and after 5:30pm. All other times it is closed” is this true?

    I am little concerned on this. Hope you could provide your experience.

    1. Hi Pratik, We remember reading something like that online a while back too when we were getting ready to drive 606 ourselves. They have been doing construction on that road for a while so there may have been a short period when the road was closed during those hours. We haven’t heard anything recently and drove it ourselves last April without any problems. It is a major route to Monteverde so they can’t close it for long periods like that. Also, just to be sure, I checked the government website and there are no advisories so you should be all set.

  10. Wow – your site is excellent and wish I found it sooner. I am getting confused now though on my thoughts for my itinery.

    I am in and out of San Jose. I thought I would spend 1 day to go to Tortuguero after I arrive. Most to boat the canals. Then to LaFortuna /Arenal for a day or two..Monteverde 1 day on way to Tamarindo. Back to San Jose.

    Is it better to reverse this where from San Jose go to Monteverde & la fortuna..skip tortuguero. Hit pacific coast for remaining days?

    So much and first time. I am renting a car. Please advise!

    ps. I do not plan to drive at night but to maximize is is better roads back to San Jose from Tamarindo that may allow me drive an hour or so drive back in dark to airport? I have a red eye return.

    1. Hi Lorie, We don’t recommend spending only one night in a destination unless it is a really short drive and none of the towns on your list are. Cutting Tortuguero would help. Not sure how much time you have, but you could do two nights each in La Fortuna and Monteverde then spend your remaining time in Tamarindo (in that order). This is an aggressive schedule but doable. Tamarindo is quite far from San Jose so if you picked a town on the Central Pacific Coast instead like Jaco or Manuel Antonio, you wouldn’t have as long of a drive. Hope that helps clear things up!

  11. Hi Jenn and Matt. I concur everything is a long drive. I have rethought a few things and based on a flight change if I head out really early am to Tortuguero for first boat…see canals rest/lunch then head to La Fortuna.? I know a lot in one day but my thought is to go early as my flight comes in from night before at 2 am to San Jose. I would probably wait till sun rise then go straight to LaPavona before San Jose rush hour? . I see the drive to La Fortuna is long from LaPavona..but if I go after lunch I should be ok? If not is it safe to stay anywhere else along the way? I plan to spend up to three days in La Fortuna/Arenal area w/ a boat trip to Monteverde vs. drive in between the other adventures if time permits To long of a drive up and back. I would leave the Arenal area afternoon and head to Tamarindo. I am going there to see a friend. I would have three nights and three days almost (last day leaving towards San Jose (red eye fight out 2:00 am next day). I am concerned reading up now regarding traffic is San Jose. Fortunately my flight goes out super late. Is it ok to drive in San Jose at night? I was hoping a city would have lights. Not planning night drive anywhere else!

    Day 1 – early am – rent car and head to LaPavona, canal tor & lunch & rest. Head toward La Fortuna noon -1 latest. La Fortuna lodging
    Day 2: La Fortuna/Arenal sights
    Day 3: boat ride Monteverde and back..optional
    Day 4 hanging bridge etc. head to Tamarindo afternoon
    Day 5 : lazy day in Tamarindo
    Day 6: Sail/Snorkel excursion Tamarindo goof off day
    Day 7. lazy morning beach walk then.head slowly back to San Jose by after noon (5 hours allotted) but have 12 hours total due to red eye return.

    Am I crazy??

  12. Thank you so much for your videos and consideration for prepartions for people
    travelling in costa rica so helpfull
    sending love

  13. We are visiting CR in late February. As we only have 7 days and don’t want to be in the car a lot we are only going to Monteverde and Tamorindo. Are three full days (4 nights) too much to stay in MV? We love to hike and see wildlife but I’m a bit concerned with the rain 3 full days may be more than we need. ALternatively, we could cut it to 3 nights and spend one night somewhere between MV and Tamorindo. Is there any place interesting to stay along the route between MV and Tamorindo? We’ll stay in Liberia our final night as we fly out early in the morning. By the way, your blog is hugely helpful. All the practical info that travel websites and books don’t usually provide.

    1. Hi Stacey, Four nights is a lot of time to spend in Monteverde, though there is a ton to do there. I wouldn’t be too concerned about rain in February since that is the dry season. There may be some and the weather is a bit cooler in the mountains, but it shouldn’t be very rainy. If you decide to cut a night, you could look at the Rincon de la Vieja area. This is a volcanic area with tropical dry forest. It’s not right on the way to Tamarindo but not too far out of the way. Follow the link we gave above to see if it’s something you’d be interested in. That link is to a post about the national park there, but you should be able to get a sense of the area and we give some recommendations for good places to stay in the comments.

  14. Hello Matt and Jen,
    Your blog has been very helpful. I will be in CR at the end of march for 10 days. From what i have read here road conditions and weather will be in my favor. With such a big difference in price for renting a SUV vs sedan/compact, I am wondering if its best to save the money and opt for the car. our route is Liberia -> La Fortuna -> Jaco -> (possible Monteverde) -> Tamarindo -> Liberia. Any advice or car rental or itinerary would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dan, That itinerary looks good but is a little ambitious for 10 days if you do Monteverde because of drive times. You won’t need a 4×4 unless you go to Monteverde. We recommend having one there all times of year because you never know how the road will be. Even if you don’t need the 4×4, there might be big ruts where it is good to have higher clearance. People do make the trip in a regular sedan during the dry season, though, if you are feeling adventurous.

  15. Thanks for the quick response. Good to know about the sedan vs 4×4 and I’ll take another look at my itinerary. One more question for you,
    Through my other research I have been reading about how dry the dry season actually gets and how drastically different the scenery is. I was looking forward to some beautiful scenery, so would you recommend waiting until dry season is over?

    1. In certain areas, it is a lot different towards the end of dry season when it hasn’t rained in a while. For where you were thinking of going, Jaco will be fairly dry end of March and Tamarindo very dry and dusty (Guanacaste is the driest area of the country). Areas to the south get dry too but the forest stays greener (e.g. Manuel Antonio, Dominical/Uvita, Osa Peninsula). Monteverde gets some rain year-round so isn’t affected.

  16. Hi I love this page! I am travelling with my children ages 9 & 11 and my Mom. We have booked a condo in Tamarindo for 20 nights because we got a great deal and when we travelled to Thailand it was too much of changing hotels. We have 3 nights when we land at 8 am in San Jose and 2 nights after Tamarindo when we fly out. We love animals and adventure. I am on the fence about a renting a vehicle but that being said transportation seems pricey on my Canadian dollar. We are considering seeing 1-2 of these places so looking for some input on Monteverde, Manual Antonio, Tortuguero or Arenal, but we are open to other possibilities. We would love to buy an authentic Boruca mask somewhere? Thank!

    1. Hi Karla, If you are flying in and out of San Jose, Tortuguero is a little out of the way so we would say La Fortuna, Monteverde, or Manuel Antonio are better options. Manuel Antonio will give you more time at the beach, so maybe go for La Fortuna or Monteverde instead. La Fortuna will show you the rainforest and has Arenal Volcano, hot springs, adventure activities, and many things to do for kids. Monteverde is very kid-friendly too, but the climate is a lot different because it is the cloud forest. We have a lot more info about each place in our Destination guides (links above).

      Renting a car gives you the most freedom to explore and is nice to have for Tamarindo unless you are staying right near the center of town. Have you looked at our rental car discount? A private shuttle is also an economical way to get between destinations if you have five people in your group. We can help with that when you get to that point if you like. We know of a reliable company here. Hope that helps!

  17. Jenn and Matt

    A good site. One comment that you can pass to your readers is about the price of car rentals in CR. If you rent from one of the big companies and use their so called “airport” locations which are actually several miles away, you’ll pay a huge premium. It is far cheaper to rent from one of their offsite locations. Recently I did a longer term rental from Alamo. They charged US$190 per week for the rental before insurances plus an airport fee of $40 per week. I later took the car back to their Lindora location which is in San Jose and then immediately re-rented the same care for only $70 per week for the rental and no airport fee (the insurance was the same price). The better way to book your car from one of the off airport locations (all the major car rental companies have them) and take a taxi to their offsite rental place. The cost of the taxi will be minimal as compared to what I paid in extra costs and the airport fee.

    1. Hi Tom, Good tip, thanks! The airport surcharge is something to watch out for. Not all companies in Costa Rica charge this, though. The one that we recommend and get a discount through, Adobe, is a smaller, Costa Rica-only rental company and they don’t charge this fee.

  18. Jan 30, 2017 – We just got back from an overnight trip from San Jose to Monteverde. Went there for the Sky Trek zip line with my 13 year old daughter which we found exciting but not the best ones that we have been on. I must say that the road to Monteverde is much as described by Jenn and Matt however having grown up and lived in the western part of the USA where gravel roads are a norm in many areas, I would say that this is not a road to be scared of. We took our Toyota Corolla. I would not recommend taking your personal sedan type car on this type of road all the time, but at the same time, it was not a bad road for a sedan traveling at slower speeds. There were only a couple of spots that you needed to slow right down but generally the gravel is well compacted, the road is mostly wide and even the narrow spots are manageable with two vehicles as long as you take it easy. Just plan on taking it easy and spending about an hour to drive the last 25 miles from the turnoff from Hwy 1 onto 606 is. Also like all roads in CR, I agree with Matt and Jenn, don’t plan to drive them at night and if you must, take it very easy. Mind you, we did this is in the dry season but even in the wet season, I would expect that as long as there is no landslide or a torrential downpour road 606 will be OK for a non 4 X 4.

  19. Thank you for your blog. It’s really informative and helpful. Received the Bijagua post today which made me wonder. We will be in Bijagua at the beginning of April. Would it be better to stop at Monteverde on the way from Bijagua (leaving early of course) to Jaco or to make a separate trip from Jaco? We will be staying at playa Agujas actually. On the map, it looks a bit like a toss up either way, but maps can be deceiving.

    That dirt road looks pretty darn good. Last year we visited Belize and those dirt roads can be very treacherous with potholes and ruts like seismic fault lines. They are definitely 4X4 required.

    Thanks in advance for the advice.

    1. Hi Dennis, We don’t recommend Monteverde on a day trip because it’s so far from everything. But if you want to do that, you’re right that it is a toss up under those scenarios. It’s about two hours from both Jaco and Bijagua so do it from whichever is more convenient. Enjoy your trip and thanks for being a subscriber!

      1. Thanks for the confirmation and advice. We will have to do the visit in one day. So, we will just have to get an early start from wherever we decide. Gracias.

  20. Hi Jenn and Matt
    Thanks for your blog ! It’s amazing ! Videos and all your tips help a lot in order to plan the trip 🙂

    I have a question on my preparations of my trip.
    I will be at 8pm at SJO in April . I’m thinking to pick up a car and make it to Monteverde.
    As I only have 10 days to spend in Costa Rica, I’m planning to stay 2 days in Monteverde , and in order to gain time I’m thinking to go to Monteverde after landing.
    Do you think it’s better to stop somewhere to sleep on the route from airport to monteverde than go directly to Monteverde at night? Where’s the better place to sleep close to Monteverde?
    Thanks in advance!!

    1. Hi Oriol, We never recommend driving long distances at night in Costa Rica and especially to Monteverde. The roads are very dark and the last stretch of Route 606 is dirt and has steep drop offs without guardrails. If you’re not familiar with the roads, it’s really not a great idea, although we understand your concern with not wanting to lose time. If it were us, we would overnight near the airport or maybe in Atenas, which isn’t to far of a drive from SJO but gets you out of the city traffic. Then you can get a very early start the next morning (sunrise is around 5:30 a.m.).

      1. Thank you very much for all your tips and your fantastic website. We’ve just arrived from Costa Rica and we really had a good time there.
        We recommend it to everyone!! Thank you so much 😀

  21. My wife and I are visiting CR for the first time the week of Memorial day (last few days of May, first few days of June) and are spending the first 3 nights in Arenal and then spending 2 nights in Monteverde. We would like some tips for things to see that can split up the 4 hr drive between the two destinations. One idea was Rio Celeste – but wanted to see if you felt this was a good pit-stop assuming we leave Arenal first thing in the morning and would have to drive 2 hrs to Rio Celeste (hopefully it doesn’t rain much the day before or that morning so that the water is still blue) and then another 3 hrs(?) to Monteverde. I know it adds an hour to our trip but I’m not sure of another opportunity to see Rio Celeste on our trip…thanks for any tips you may have!

    1. Hi Kevin, We don’t usually recommend the Rio Celeste as a stop between La Fortuna and Monteverde because of all the driving. Plus the waterfall isn’t something you can just drive up to; you still have to hike around 30 min each way to get there. It is possible, though, if you really want to see it if you leave early in the morning. Here’s our post about it with directions from La Fortuna.

      Another idea is the Viento Fresco Waterfalls. These are really beautiful and are right on the way, so would be easier. Here’s a link to that post.

  22. Hi Jenn and Matt. Your blog is amazing and we have used it several times both before our trip and now while we are visiting Costa Rica 🙂
    A question on the topic above. We will be driving from Santa Teresa to Santa Elena/Monteverde and I plan going route 160 to 21 to 18 to 1 (so avoid the ferry). Google maps suggest to go from route 1 to 145 and then 606, while Waze suggest to drive 13 km more on route 1 and then use route 605. However as I understand from your post you would continue on Route 1 and then use route 606? Is 145 that worse that it is better to take a 30 km detour down route 1 to 606? Thanks.

    1. Hi Jesper, We haven’t driven that section of Route 145 recently but still believe that it is worth going down to Route 606 instead. On Route 1 you will be able to drive 60-80 km/hr (or more), while on the side road (Route 145), you will be going very slow. Once you are on 606, it is a smooth drive on pavement for much of the way to Monteverde, so overall it will be more enjoyable and proably take less time. 606 is the way that all the major transport/shuttle companies go, so it is probably the safest bet. Have a safe trip and enjoy!

  23. Hola Jenn and Matt,

    We love your blog and web site. What a great adventure you are having.
    We are going from Liberia to La Fortuna next week and then to Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Do you think we need to reserve a spot on the van-boat-van ahead of time? Also, we were planning to take a private transport from Liberia to La Fortuna and from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio and then to San Jose the evening before we fly home. It seems to be easier than finding the public bus stop. Should we book that now also. Do you think it is easy to find someone to share a van with?

    1. Hi Robin, I think we emailed you about this, but wanted to get it up on the blog for others to see. We would recommend reserving your shuttles ahead of time so that you’re guaranteed a spot. You can either do shared shuttles (more economical but take longer and have a set schedule) or private ones (more expensive but faster and depart whenever you choose). We work with companies that offer both of these services and would be happy to help with the booking for no extra charge if you would like. Just reply to this thread and we can send more information.

  24. What a great blog! My sister and I are planning a trip during the last week if June into the first week of July. As much as I would like to avoid crowds, I keep going back to a common “loop” – Monteverde, Arenal then Manuel Antonio and back to San Jose. A friend says Manuel Antonio is disappointingly crowded. We will have a 17 yr old and 13 year old with us, so it’s not as though we need to be in a more secluded or “couples oriented” place. Will these locations be be overrun with lots of people during this time of year?

    1. Hi Jennifer, June is off-season in Costa Rica so it shouldn’t be too busy anywhere, including Manuel Antonio. For July, summer break for the locals is in July (starts on July 3 this year and goes for about two weeks). Everyone get time off during this time so the beach and some other destinations like La Fortuna will be busier. If there is any way to plan your trip around that holiday, you won’t have any problems with crowds and your itinerary sounds good. If you can’t change your dates, don’t worry. It still won’t be as busy as peak travel times like around Christmas and New Years. You may just want to visit smaller destinations.

  25. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Great info on your blog!

    My hubby and I are heading to CR for our first trip there next week, we are very excited!
    For the first half of our trip we will be staying at the Arenal Lodge. We will have a 4×4 SUV and are considering doing a day trip to Monteverde cloud forest.
    Now that I have been researching it I am not so sure. Looking at the road conditions and drive times on Google maps, I am thinking this may be too much to do all in one day. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Hi Krista, You’re right, it is too far of a drive to do on a day trip. We recommend at least one night but two is even better so that you can really experience the area. There’s a ton to see and do closer to Arenal, though. Hope you have a great trip!

  26. Hello, we (me and my 2 children, 13 and 16) are leaving next week from Aruba to Costa Rica for a 3 week trip which includes at the end one week of volunteer work at an animal rescue center. We will be staying 2 days at Tortuguero, 1 day at Sarapiqui, 2 days at Arenal, 2 days at Celeste, 2 days at Monteverde and 3 nights at Vergel de Punto Mala. IS this a realistic plan and how long will the drive be from one place to another? I will drive a 4×4. Which app on my phone is the best for the route? I also want to try to climb the cerro chato, loved your story about it. Thank you for sharing all your great stories. Greetings Katinka

    1. Hi Katinka, That is a fast-paced itinerary that has you in the car a lot but it is possible if you are trying to see a lot of the country. The drive from Monteverde to Punta Mala is particularly long so be ready for that. For drive times for this itinerary, you can use Google to get estimates and add some time to and from Monteverde. Usually Google is a little off because of traffic too so plan on extra time for that. We recommend planning out your route in advance using our Road Conditions post and then using GPS or the Waze app on your phone when you get here to make sure you’re on the right road.

  27. Thank you for your advice, I am reading right now. Which route do you recommend from Celeste to Monteverde? # 6 and 1 or 142 passing Tilaran.

  28. Really enjoying your blog one hoping you can help us finalize our mid Aug plans; we’re expecting rain of course but want to maximize our chances to enjoy some time without it. We’re arriving into SJ fairly late on 10th…planning to overnight close to the airport and pick up a 4×4 either that night or early AM 11th. Then booked for 3 nights in Manuel Antonio (Hotel Makanda, got what seems like a pretty good price). 14th AM drive up to La Fortuna for 2 nights at the Mountain Paradise Hotel, then 2 nights @ Monteverde Lodge+ Gardens (grnd floor room, $289 ttl). Drive back to SJ airport for 4pm flight home.

    We have considered skipping either Arenal (GF not into rafting or zipline) or Monteverde (roads) portions and doing Tortuguero instead (see turtles). Any thoughts on that and if a positive, should we move the Manual Antonio to the end of the trip for easier SJ airport access?

    1. Hi Leland, Personally, we would keep your itinerary as is, but you could switch out either Monteverde or La Fortuna for Tortuguero if you wanted to. August is a good time to see turtles and there’s a lot of other wildlife there too. The road to Monteverde should be okay in August as long as you have 4×4 and don’t try driving there in the dark. La Fortuna has a ton of things to do other than rafting and zip lining, but how you spend your time really depends on what you’re most interested in. Keep in mind too that Fortuna has different weather patterns so often is less rainy in August. We have posts on each of the three destinations- follow the link above for more info.

    1. Hi Mary, We would just drive it because the roads between those towns aren’t bad. Taking the ferry would work too and it is a nice scenic ride, but it’s out of the way and you do have to go on some rougher dirt roads for a bit to get to it. If you do go with the ferry option, make sure to take the Naranjo ferry, which is closer than the one in Paquera.

  29. Hi Jen and mat
    I am planning to visit CR ,arriving at SJ airpot on 12/21/17 and flying back on 12/26/17 , we will be 6 adults and plan to spend a night in Sj and then 2 nights at monteverde and 2 nights at la fortuna , will try to rent SUV and also arrange stay through Air B&B .
    Any advice
    Thanks Zia Din

    1. Hi Zia, That Itinerary will work. One suggestion would be to consider switching Monteverde and La Fortuna so you do Fortuna first. It will likely be very crowded over the Christmas holiday there. Monteverde will be busy too but probably not as bad. We have a lot of information about visiting these destinations in our posts La Fortuna: What to Expect and Monteverde: A Forest in the Clouds. There are some Airbnbs near the airport or we have a post with recommendations for hotels here. Be sure to check out our rental car discount as you’re shopping around for an SUV. Hope you all have a great trip!

  30. Hi, we will be landing in Liberia and heading to Monteverde. Just so I have this right we should take 1 to 606(not 605 like google maps suggests) and into Monteverde as the quickest route? Then when we leave to go to Bijague take the same way back out of Monteverde? Thx so much. Your blog has helped in my planning so much. Will use your discount woth Adobe when I finally book car rental. We plan to climb up the free ficus tree by the Original Canopy tour!

    1. Hi Valori, Yes, that’s right. 606 is a better/faster road than 605, even though it’s a little out of the way. And then to get to Bijagua, yes, you will go the same way (606 to Highway 1 to Route 6). Sounds like you have a great itinerary. We loved Bijagua– it’s a hidden gem. And that ficus tree is so cool. Enjoy!

  31. Hi, love your blog, thank you for all of the great info! We are traveling to CR on December 6th and I was wondering if I could get some advice from you guys on whether or not we should stop in Monteverde to check out the hanging bridges. Our itinerary includes 3 nights in Arenal (1st stop), then 3 nights in Occidental Papagayo, and then last night in San Jose since we are flying out of there on the 13th. We are renting a car to get around, I think they are renting us a sedan but I’m hoping to upgrade to a 4×4 SUV. My question is, if we leave early enough on our check out day from Papagayo is it doable and worth it to stop in Monteverde to check out the hanging bridges in Selvatura park on our way to San Jose? Within our itinerary, this seems like the best time to fit in Monteverde, but want to make sure this is doable and if so what roads are the best from Papagayo to Selvatura? Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Hi Kristen, The drive from the Papagayo to San Jose is quite long, especially with traffic. And because the road to Monteverde is rough, it’s about 1 hour off of Highway 1. So it would add 2 hours to your trip to do Monteverde only for driving and then you would want to spend some time there to make it worthwhile. If you can’t fit in a night in Monteverde, we would skip it this time around. Arenal has fantastic hanging bridges so you can easily do them there. Let us know if you would like help choosing hanging bridges or other tours. We can book just about anything in the Arenal area and around Costa Rica and don’t charge extra to do this.

  32. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Thank you for all the great information. It is such a valuable resource, especially for first time visitors.

    My brothers and I will be on a birding trip and trying to visit a variety of habitats. I have a question regarding the best route from La Selva OTS to Monteverde. This looks like a long drive so I don’t want to make it even longer by making a bad choice.

    Should I go through La Fortuna and around the west side of Lake Arenal or head south from La Selva to Hwy 1, then head west to the 606? If south first, which road to Hwy 1….126, 708 or 141?

    One thought is that if there is no substantial difference in time, the road through La Fortuna may offer better scenic views and birding stops.

    Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you, Greg

    1. Hi Greg, You should go the San Jose Route- take Route 126 S and connect with Route 1. It will probably be quicker to then get off Route 1 at the Coyol Radial (after the airport) and connect to Route 27 and go down through Caldera, since Route 1 is curvy and slower than 27. Then you’ll take Route 606 off 1. Hope that helps and you see some awesome birds. (You should based on where you’re going!).

  33. Hi, thank you for this great site! The information is really helpful. We are planning a family trip to Costa Rica from July25 to August 8 next year. We will be staying with friends in Playa Negra, Guanacaste, for one week and then go to La Fortuna/Arenal for 3 days before heading back to San Jose. Currently, the plan is to fly in and out of San Jose, rent a 4×4 and drive San Jose – Playa Negra, then Playa Negra – Arenal, then Arenal – San Jose. I understand that the road conditions are unpredictable at that time of the year, but given our route, would you still recommend that we go ahead with our plan? Or do you think it is too risky? We were originally planning on flying in and out of Liberia but dates and flights are not as good for us (flying from London). Many thanks in advance! Anna

    1. Hi Anna, It’s a long drive from SJO Airport to Playa Negra, but you will be on major roads almost all of the time. They will be paved and mostly highway until you get close to the beach, then they will turn to dirt (bumpy but mostly flat). There aren’t any river crossings if you do the most direct way so you should be fine. The route to Arenal will be paved the whole time. You’ll be on highway (Highway 1), then take a curvy paved road around Lake Arenal. Like we said, it’s curvy, but fine if you drive it during the day time. Hope you have a good trip!

  34. Hi Jenn & Matt!
    I just found out your blog and I can´t stop reading it 🙂 Thanks for all the detailed explanations and useful tips.
    I´m travelling to CR mid March next year and I will be arriving at SJO Airport at 3.55pm. My plan is to rent a car and drive straight to La Fortuna. Based on what I have read, I will be hiting the road by 5.30pm and driving during the night till La Fortuna.
    Is the route 702 in good conditions (paved, lightend) for driving carefully over the night?
    Is there any posibility of being robbed along the road?
    Any advice will be very much appreciated!
    Thanks a lot!!
    Andrea (Argentina)

    1. Hi Andrea, We would not worry about being robbed, but Route 702 is not a road we recommend driving at night. It is paved, but it is also narrow, curvy, mountainous, and tends to get fogged in. It is also not well lit so we would stay overnight near the airport and get an early start the next day.

  35. We drove from Arenal to Santa Elena yesterday December 1st and although the roads were bumpy and a few potholes, they were nowhere near as bad as the road to Arenal Observatory Lodge which is in awful condition with a million potholes. We have a compact 4×4 which I would definitely recommend but if you take it slow it isn’t anything to be worried about. Part of route 606 has been paved also so you will find you are bumping along for a few km then have a few km of paving before it goes back to more rough dirt road

  36. Hi Jenn and Matt:
    A question I hope you can answer. We arrive at San Jose at 2:30 PM and were thinking to head out to San Ramon to get a head start for the next day to Monteverde. With car rental pick-up ad traffic might that be pushing our luck? The place were hoping to stay is Villa Blanca – the last 25 mins are on a dirt road with the usual issues.

    If making it to San Ramon seems realistic, but you have another, next best suggestion – I would love to hear it! thank you very much!

    1. Hi Bette, Unfortunately, that hotel (Villa Blanca) isn’t really on the way to Monteverde so we would nix it for that reason. You would still have a 3 hour drive the next day because you would need to take Route 1, which is slower because the road is very curvy. We recommend taking Highway 27 to connect to the Interamericana (Highway 1) instead. A good place to stop on the way that isn’t right in San Jose is Atenas. This is a cute local town and there are some nice B&Bs there. See our Atenas post for recommendations.

      1. Many thanks Jenn and Matt!!!
        We are lucky and scored a one night stay at B & B Vista Athenas! The reviews look great.

        How long do you think it might take for us to get to Monteverde from Athenas?
        Again… thanks!

  37. Hello!
    Next week (!!) my fiance and I will be in Costa Rica, and are going to Arenal –> Monteverde –> Manuel Antonio. We are staying at a hotel in El Castillo, and I’m looking at different routes that take us from El Castillo to Monteverde. Would you recommend taking the road on the southwestern end of Lake Arenal that passes through Rio Chiquito and eventually connects to Route 145 then Route 606? Or would you still recommend Route 142 even though it appears to be considerably longer? We are trying to spend as little time in a car as possible, but I also don’t want to compromise safety.

    1. Hi Christina, We have only driven to El Castillo and not past it in that direction so aren’t sure how the road is going towards Rio Chiquito, but we think that it is dirt most of the way. And it very curvy around the lake so will be slow. It is still probably faster than going back towards Tabacon in the wrong direction and connecting with Route 142, though. We would say to definitely ask your hotel in El Castillo what the best route is. They should know. Good luck, and if you have time, it would be awesome if you could report back on how it goes. Have a great trip!

      1. It’s hard to believe we were in beautiful CR a month ago! We did end up back tracking, and went around the lake to reach Monteverde from El Castillo. A local told us the other route is not a real road, and part of the ‘road’ is in a river. Just to explore, we did go down that ‘road’ a short ways, and it is all gravel that is not maintained.
        Thank you so much for this blog!! We used it so many times when we were out there!

  38. Hi,
    I just discovered your awesome and informative blog when I Googled “road conditions in Monteverde.”
    My husband, 3 year old son, and I will embark on a 12 day trip to CR in late March/early April 2018. We’ll fly into SJO, as unfortunately going in and out of Liberia from Seattle would require an extra night on either end in Houston. 🙁
    Here’s my tentative itinerary: arrive SJO, spend the night; next day drive to Monteverde and stay 4 nights; on to Playa Samara, stay 4 nights; head back toward SJO but break things up with a night in Canas and hike to Llanas de Cortes. Then back to SJO for 2 nights, so we have a buffer in case of a travel hiccup. We can use that day to check out La Paz Falls and Gardens. Fly out of SJO early the next day. Do you think that sounds doable with a toddler? I would love to throw in Arenal but I don’t want to wear him out more than he likely will be anyway.
    I’m pretty sure we’ll rent a car. Your blog is easing my fears. 🙂 what are your thoughts on renting from Adventure Inn, where we’ll stay in SJO? I want to have them pick us up when we arrive so we’re not driving at night, and to avoid the airport fees. Doing this will allow us to head to MV as early the next day as we can get going.
    Anyway, let me know your thoughts. I traveled to CR in ’01 when I was single but heading there with a kiddo has me concerned about things I didn’t think about before! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sarah, Your itinerary sounds really good for traveling with a 3 yo (not too much), but you may want to rethink the stop in Canas on the way back to SJO. The fastest way from Samara to SJO is to go Route 18 to Highway 1. This avoids having to go up through Guanacaste and saves about 2 hours. Then the drive will only be around 4 hours from Samara so you may not need an overnight on the way. I agree about not adding in Arenal. You will be able to do day trips from where you’re going (Nosara and Punta Islita from Samara). And we like the idea of 2 nights in SJ. Adventure Inn is fine for the rental car, but not sure if they get a discount? We get a discount through Adobe Rent a Car (more info here) and they can deliver the car to Adventure Inn for you for no extra charge. Just select Adventure Inn as the pick up location when you go to make the booking. Adobe doesn’t charge airport fees either, FYI. Hope you used our 10% discount at Adventure Inn too when you made the reservation for that! Good job with the planning, hope your family has a wonderful trip!

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt,
        Thanks so much for your helpful reply. My only question is…if we drive straight to SJO from Samara we would have 3 nights there (Friday through Monday) instead of just 2. This would give us 2 full days. Do you recommend doing that? I’m not keen on spending 2 full days in SJO when I didn’t see Guanacaste when I was there before and would rather be away from the big city. Or instead of Llanos de Cortes (since we want to hit La Paz that Sunday in SJO) do you recommend we plan an extra Saturday in SJO to visit Irazu, or Poas if the park reopens? An active volcano is the one thing we wouldn’t be seeing otherwise and our little guy loves volcanoes. 🙂 Or is there enough to do in/near Samara that we could easily fill 4 full days/5 nights there instead of the 3 full days/4 nights I have planned? Then we could make the long drive back to SJO on Saturday, ditch the rental car, and do a tour to La Paz the Sunday before we leave.

        That weekend before we fly out is the one sticking point on this whole trip. Aside from making the detour to Canas, it’s also kind of a pain to have to unload everything out of the car for just one night in a hotel then reload and continue on to SJO the next day. But it’s not like SJO is a glamorous place to spend a lot of time, and with the big city dangers it certainly isn’t a place I’d want us to drive. But I think we could get stir-crazy if we stay in Samara too long.

        I guess a summary of my rambling is…in your experience should we just stay Friday through Monday in SJO and do day trips to a volcano and La Paz before we fly out; spend an extra night in Samara and make the long drive to SJO that Saturday; or detour to Canas so we can see the waterfall and I can visit another new place I haven’t seen before? So many pros and cons to all of these, and I want our trip to be super awesome. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and for your help. I’ve already recommended your blog on FB hiking pages I’m a part of when people ask about Costa Rica. 🙂 It’s such a huge help. Have a great night!

  39. Hello
    we are planning to drive from hotel in Alajuela to Playa Grande/Salinas. From reading prior posts sounds like we should take hwy 27 instead of hwy 1 but i am not clear on best way to reconnect to hwy 1 heading northwest—your suggestion would be appreciated?

  40. Drove to Monteverde from San Jose in mid December 2017. Roads were rough but manageable, very narrow at times with steep drop-offs, but gorgeous views. 606 was closed so we detoured to 605 which merged back into 606 just before Santa Elena. Spent a few days in Monteverde and drove to La Fortuna. Totally recommend the Butterfly Gardens tour!

      1. Yes! We rented from Adobe (highly recommend). The car was a brand new Hyundai Tuscon. Plenty of room for three people! I wouldn’t say it was absolutely necessary, but very comforting.

        1. Brandon,
          How long did it take you to get to Monteverde from SJO taking the alternate route with 606 being closed? We too are going to rent a 4WD and I’m trying to figure out when we should leave toen when we’re there next month. Thanks!

  41. Hello,

    Thanks so much for this awesome website. It has been very insightful. However, I am a little stressed out over my upcoming trip to Costa Rica and could use your advice. Some many websites, as well as yours, describe the rough road conditions to Monteverde and advise against driving at night. My trip is a little short and I am trying to go to both Monteverde and Arenal/La Fortuna, as well as La Paz Waterfall, Irazu Volcano, and Braulio Carrillo National Park. I can make all of this work, but any way I layout my itinerary it seems I’ll be driving to Monteverde at night or wake up at 5 a.m., the next morning.

    Here is one of the plans I came up with…
    Arrive 1:30 p.m., on Friday, April 13th at the SJO airport. Grab my rental car and drive to La Fortuna. Check into my AirBnB…
    Saturday morning go to Proyecto Asis at 8 a.m to 12:30 p.m.
    …Hike Arenal park, visit La Fortuna Waterfall, and a Hot Spring.
    Sunday morning do White Water Rafting at the Balsa River from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    …drive to Monteverde after the rafting
    Monday morning… Hike Santa Elena Cloud Forest, Bird Watch and maybe the hanging bridges (if I can’t squeeze it in at Arenal)
    Monday night drive to Grecia area and check into AirBnB
    Tuesday morning… Hike Irazu, do Aerial Tram at Braulio Park and visit the La Paz Waterfall.
    Wednesday morning head to SJO airport.

    Side note: I was also planning to drive to Monteverde first, but that would mean I have to drive there on Friday after the airport. I felt the above-mentioned option made more sense until I realized the rafting would be an all-day thing. Also, I am a pretty confident driver and I have driven in Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Don’t know is this matters. Lol

    Any help or suggestions would be great. Thanks in Advance and sorry for writing so much. 🙂

    1. Hi Rose, Honestly, it seems like you’re trying to do too much in general and should par back on what you want to accomplish on your trip. Even if you could fit all of this in, which isn’t likely, you would be rushing around from one sight to the next. With 5 days, we would do 2 destinations max. Driving at night to or from Monteverde is definitely not advisable. We avoid driving long distances at night whenever possible and we live here. It’s hard to give specific recommendations for what to cut out without knowing what your priorities are. But if it were us, we’d skip Irazu. Cutting Monteverde is the obvious choice of a destination to take out since you’re only planning on 1 night there. If do Braulio Carrillo, you won’t get cloud forest, of course, but the jungle is really lush there. Sorry if this isn’t all that helpful…hope it at least helps you narrow things.

      1. Thank you very much for your response. I did think that maybe I’m doing too much and I thought about skipping either Monteverde or Irazu.

        Thanks again!!
        Warm Regards,

  42. Great Information! Thank you so much! Just want to double check that the best route is still to get on 606 into Monteverde coming from Tamarindo. Google maps sends you via 145. About how long would that drive be? We would like to visit both the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Selvatura Park during our 2 days in the area. We would have less time on our first day since that is the day we are driving in. Which site would you recommend visiting on our first day? We wake with the birds so would be on the road early so probably would have half a day. Looking forward to hearing back from you for some helpful information

    1. Hi Lou Ann, We heard that starting in early January, they started the paving process for Route 606 from Guacimal to Santa Elena. Because of this, the road is closed for most of the day, but they do open it up for 30 minutes every couple of hours to let traffic through. This is only temporary. Until then, yes, the recommended route is 145, Las Juntas to Santa Elena. We have updated our post with this information. This makes for a longer ride, we’d say about 4 hours from Tamarindo.

      As for which attraction to do on your first day, we’d say Selvatura because you only need a couple of hours there.

  43. We are coming to CR in early March and plan to go to Monteverde (Santa Elena) do you think they will still be working on 606? Also, if we take 145, how long would you guess it would take us to get to Santa Elena from the airport in San Jose.

    1. Hi Laura, They will most likely still be working on Route 606 in March. From SJO Airport, it will take 4-4.5 hours if you go Route 145. A good way to follow the progress of the construction is to check Waze for updates. Right now I can see that a small portion of 606 is closed. Use this link and search for Santa Elena (Puntarenas Province).

  44. My wife and I drove to Monteverde on Jan 28th Sunday 2018, from Tamarindo via 606 not knowing about exact construction situation. I thought the fact that it is Sunday could also mean no construction. Long story short, we luckily had to wait for just 20 mins or so for the construction to open (at 3:00 PM). Also because opposite side was blocked while we drove up, it actually made driving pretty easy.

  45. Jenn and Matt. Wow. Thank you so much for a great blog. We will be arriving SJO on March 3 around 12:30-1:00pm. We plan on driving to Monteverde once we pick up our rental car. Seems like we would have time to get to our destination before dark. Obviously, our concern is the construction on 606, do you know how we can find out how the construction is progressing. We regularly use the Waze app and it seems like it is updated with Costa Rica roadways, and hope it would guide us to the correct route. If we need to take Rt 145, approximately how long would that drive be from SJO to Santa Elena.

    1. Hi Annette, Yes, Waze is a great resource for checking on the construction. Lots of people use it here (us included). We would not expect the construction to be done by March 3 but you could check with your hotel closer to your trip. The drive from SJO will probably be around 4 hours so as long as you don’t have any delays, you should be able to make it before dark.

      1. Update: The construction on Route 606 has not been well covered in the news, but we just found this article from the President of Costa Rica’s website (in Spanish but you can translate it). It says that this is a major project with an expected completion date of December 2018. Due to the mountainous terrain, a lot of work is going into assessing the stability and geotechnical aspects of the project. So for the time being, Route 145 is the better route.

  46. We just drove to Monte Verde in February 2018. The drive up the mountain is absolutely beautiful. We did not find any of the drive scary so please don’t be afraid to make the drive.

    But listen to beryl e here. Never drive at night. I would actually never drive anywhere in CR at night. Besides being dangerous, you miss the views.

    Always allow more time than your directions say. And allow time to pull over and admire the views or soak up local culture.

    Thanks for this fantastic blog!

  47. We drove from La Fortuna to Monteverde on February 14, 2018. The drive on the 142 and 145 was very smooth and it was only in the last 25 km of the drive that it changed to off road terrain (including the 606). This route didn’t get us stuck in any construction (maybe we’re lucky or perhaps it’s from another direction ?) but we found it started about 10km from the destination. Definitely recommend an SUV not because it’s impossible to do in a smaller car, but it is a better option for the terrain. The road is very rocky and not so much like a traditional dirt road. 100% do the drive during the day.

    1. Hi KM, Thanks for the trip report. It is very helpful to know what Route 145 and the northern portion of 606 are like right now for people coming from La Fortuna. This is the dirt portion if you’re coming from La Fortuna, and conditions change based on the weather and if the road has been regraded. The construction everyone is taking about is if you are accessing Monteverde from Highway 1. They are doing construction on the last portion of Route 606 between Guacimal and Santa Elena. This is a completely different part of 606.

  48. we Are coming from Arenal to Monteverde on March 5 can you please tell us most direct route and fastest I understand they are still paving

    Thank You!

    1. Hi Debbie, Coming from La Fortuna/Arenal, you won’t be affected by the construction. The construction is on the lower part of Route 606, if you are coming from Route 1. From La Fortuna, you will follow the directions above for Driving to Monteverde from La Fortuna or Lake Arenal and take Route 142 to Tilaran, then Route 145 to 606. This part of 606 is a completely different section than the part that they are working on.

  49. We’ll be driving to Monteverde from SJO on Thursday before Easter, which I know is the official start of the holiday. Do you think road construction will be happening that day, or will the road be fairly open? (Looks like it was faster going for someone above on a Sunday). I’m trying to decide if we should stick to our Monte plans, anticipating the longer drive on 145 (we’ll head out early and take breaks), or if we should switch to La Fortuna instead and have a shorter drive from SJO since we’ll be doing a ton of flying the day before. Do you have thoughts on this? We’ll have our 3 year old with us, hence the concern. 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah, We would think that construction will be happening on that Thursday but aren’t sure. FYI- Someone else recently said that the work was happening on the Sunday they were traveling. You should expect heavy traffic in general that day since locals will be traveling for the holidays. So we’re not sure which option is better but if you do La Fortuna first, you won’t have to deal with the 606 construction at all. La Fortuna is usually busy for Semana Santa, though, so keep that in mind too. It’ll be more crowded than Monteverde.

  50. We did the drive on the 606 to Monteverde last Sunday. We were helpfully given a photo of a road sign detailing the road closure hours before we left. According to the sign the road is closed for the following times:
    7.30am -10.30am
    1.00pm – 3.00pm
    3.15pm- 5.30pm
    We decided to aim to hit the 12.30pm-1pm half an hour period where the road was due to be open. We managed to reach the part with the road closure almost exactly at 12.30pm, and had no problems and no time spent waiting. However there was no sign of any workers or that the road was closed only minutes before, so we think the fact it was a Sunday meant it may have been open all day.

  51. Hello,

    I used your blog to plan my trip to Monteverde in February 2018, and here’s my report about the road status.
    Coming from Liberia, I originally planed to take the road 606 to reach Monteverde, but your recent comment about the road construction made me change my plan. I finally took the road 145 (on February 11th) , and I found the drive easier than I thought. Yes it’s dirt, but few portions of the road are paved, and if you’ve got a 4WD it shouldn’t be to difficult.
    Using the 145 will avoid you to have to wait too long if you’re not in the time slot when the 606 is open.

  52. Hello Matt and Jenn – I really appreciate all the comments you provide. It is helping me to put together an exciting trip for next February. I do want to go to Monteverde, but I am curious about the paving project on 606. What part of 606 is being paved? Is it the section north of Santa Elena, or south, or the entire route from where it intersects with 145 in the north, to 1 in the south?

    Is there any information on what parts will be paved first and which will be done last?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Elaine, The southern portion is being paved. If you look at a map and follow 606 from Route 1, it’s from the town of Guacimal to Santa Elena. The stretch from Guacimal south to 1 is already paved. It’s not a huge amount of distance that remains but it’s still a big project because of the extremely mountainous terrain. The whole project is supposed to be done by the end of 2018.

  53. We drove to Monteverde from the south so took 606 last Sunday. The roadwork was being done, even on Sunday and was only opened for fifteen minutes. The road was nice and flat due however, the dust from construction made for very bad visibility. I was dreading the drive back out, so we investigated other routes and decided to take 145 thru la juntas to get back to 1. It was great in comparison. While it might have been more overall driving at least half was paved and for the most part, the unpaved parts had berms. My husband and I were both wondering why folks were recommending 606 even with the closures over 145 as we thought 145 was much easier. Yes, we did have a 4×4. Thanks so much for the blog and encouraging folks to provide updates. Hope this helps others!

  54. Just took 606 from Monteverde on Wedbesday and they had times posted as to when the road is Opened which can help planning. Took a picture but don’t think I can upload here… they start closing it at 7AM so we were at the bumpy start of the road at6.15. Didn’t stop for pics since we were afraid we may not make it. We did but if you want to take pics I‘d start a bit earlier 🙂 it was closed 7AM-10.30 10.45-12.30, 1-3Pm and 3.15-5.30 so not enough time to make it all the way in those breaks.

    So glad I read this on your blog!!! Thank you 🙂

    On another note- it is bumpy but generally didn’t think 606 is as bad and scary as described everywhere. Road from rio Celeste to bijagua was worse (but shorter) in my opinion. Maybe we just got used to it 🙂

  55. Ruta 606:
    Hello to all. I discovered your super blog and Website yesterday and I would like to share with you and your followers the information I just received from Arco Iris Lodge in Santa Elena concerning the state of route 606.
    “La ruta 606 esta siendo reparada en un tramo localizado 13 kilómetros antes de llegar a Santa Elena, y más o menos a una hora desde la entrada sobre la carretera panamericana (Gasolinera Sardinal), a continuación los periodos durante los cuales el camino está abierto:
    De 10:00AM a 10:30AM
    De 12:30PM a 1:00PM
    De 3:00PM a 3:15PM
    De 5:00PM a 7:00AM”

    We will be driving there on March 9th. Thanks for sharing it and best regards, Susanne

  56. Thanks for the great info. Just as FYI, we took the 606 today Saturday March 3rd from Monteverde to National 1 and there was no construction so no delay. We saw all the equipment however so clearly they were off for the day. The road from Monteverde to National 1 was great. Not too bumpy and wider than the 145 with an excellent view. The day before we took the 145 from National 1 to Monteverde (via Juntas). We had a Toyota Fortuner 4×4 and although some parts were narrow and bumpy, not as worst as I expected. I would take this road again. Thanks for your excellent blog.

  57. We travelled route 606 today (march 6 2018) to Monteverde, in a car with 4wd and it was a nightmare! The road is very rough with potholes and large rocks strewn about from cliff falls. Passengers benefit from awesome views but drivers need to concentrate 100% on the ever changing conditions of the road. Get a proper 4WD with high clearance or become yet another roadside tyre-changer.

  58. We did the 145 to 606 route today in a 2WD sedan (Hyundai Elantra) and it was fine. There were a few really rough sections but I took it slow and got through them fine. Obviously a 4WD is preferred, but it can be done without one (at least in the dry season).

  59. Hello Matt and Jen. First, let me say that your blog is excellent. I have learned so much through your site. I plan to visit CR Apr 1-8. I will drive from San Jose to Monteverde Apr 4,do the canopy tour, then drive on to Temarindo. Do you think it is realistic to make this trip in daylight hours? We have rented a 4×4, and I have read about the traffic detours. I am a bit concerned that we may cut it close getting to the coast.

    1. Hi Donna, We don’t recommend Monteverde as a day trip because of the drive time to get there from anywhere. It’s about 3.5 hours from San José and then Tamarindo is another 3.5 hours or so from there. Both drives can be longer depending on traffic and construction delays. If you leave San José early, it’s possible to make it to the coast before dark, but it would be rushed.

  60. This website is so fantastic. We are three days away from our trip and doing all the final planning and the advice and detail here is outstanding – thank you! We’ll update you when we come back!

  61. Did road 606 March 13. We passed at the 3;00 opening. We were about 20 vehicles following each other and crossed about 20 to 30 cars, suv and buses. There was a lot of dust and low visibility. Not sure which road we will try tomorrow to go to Samara.

    1. Hi Jonathan,
      Which route did you choose to travel to Samara? We’re making this very same drive next Monday–staying in Monte from Thurs through Monday then spending the rest of the week in Samara. I would love to have an update on road conditions and routes (at this point I think we’re leaning toward 145 to 606 to get to Monte from SJO, after what I’ve been reading, and I need to study the map to figure out the best way to get to Samara). Enjoy your trip! 🙂 I’ll post an update after our journey as well.

  62. Thanks for all the info. We are planning on driving April 2 from sjo to Monteverde. I arrive a day early on sjo so will have car ready to pick up my friend on the 2nd at sjo. Her flight lands at 325pm. Then we were planning on going straight to Monteverde from the airport. We already have our booking in Monteverde but now I’m having second thoughts about driving at that time. We wouldn’t rush it but the I believe we may end up night driving as sunset is quite early? Thoughts?

    1. Hi Phyllis, Yeah, it will be tough to make it to Monteverde before dark (5:45 pm). The drive is 2.5-3 hours and there will most likely be more traffic than usual because that’s the Monday after Easter. Even if your friend is able to get through customs and immigration quickly, you won’t be able to leave until 4 pm, which gets you to Monteverde around 6:30 or 7. Better to take a shuttle and leave the driving to someone else who knows the roads well or stay overnight near SJO or somewhere on the way and get an early start the next day.

  63. We drove the 606 route on Thursday, March 22, and hadn’t checked your blog in a few weeks. Big mistake. Started up the hill at 4 pm thinking I had all kinds of time. Pretty bumpy even with a 4 wd vehicle. Got stopped at construction at about 5 pm and right there the wifi station in the car also stopped working. Contrary to the schedule, they didn’t stop until almost 6, and by that time it was almost dark and the whole line of cars, trucks and motorbikes started racing ahead in a raging dust storm. It was like something out of mad max: fury road. We didn’t get to monteverde (actually San Luis) until well after 6:30 feeling pretty beaten up. Wish I had just gone via 145 instead and ignored Google maps. They also blocked the road to San Luis this whole weekend with very brief windows to pass, but that’s a whole other story.

    1. On second thought, maybe my post was a bit off base. It was the end of an already long drive and I might have made a mistake at the outset by following Google maps. I could have sworn that driving on Highway 1 toward Monteverde it was immediately gravel, so maybe we went on 605 at the outset instead of 606? Anyway, I realize now that bumpy roads and road work is just part of the deal in this part of the country. We did drive 606 to 145 through Las Juntas down to Highway 1 yesterday, and that still took about 90 minutes with patches that were pretty rough. But it was pretty countryside, with terraced coffee farms, etc. so it wasn’t too bad. What I would recommend is just to get the most rugged car you can and allow extra time so you don’t have to drive at night.

      1. Rigged car it is! I need to book one. I can’t use adobe as there is no drop off in tamarindo. Any other car rental agency suggestions?

        1. Hi Phyllis, Adobe does have a location in Tamarindo. It’s called Tamarindo/Flamingo/Potrero in the drop-down menu. They can deliver the car to your hotel in Tamarindo for free too; you just need to specify this as the drop off location.

  64. Drove 606 today 4/1 from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde. No construction at all. We were told there would be no construction this week due to higher anticipated traffic. Happy travels everyone!

  65. We drove 606 to Monteverde on Thursday the 29th. Waze directed us to take 606 and the staff at Adventure Inn recommended that as well, even though we’d potentially encounter construction.
    Turned out 606 was the easiest part of our drive! We saw maybe 3 other cars the whole way and not a sign of construction along the whole route from Guacimal to Santa Elena. We didn’t have to slow down on the road at all. The Interamericana however, was a whole other story. We were in the thick of the Easter holiday traffic and at times literally sat for 30 min or more not moving an inch. As we approached 606 we were 1000 feet from the exit and it took us over 30 min to reach a part of the road where we felt safe peeling out and creating our own “right lane” to turn right.
    As for road conditions, 606 wasn’t horrible. We saw a sedan heading up that passed us. It didn’t seem to be having much trouble. That said, I personally feel that 4WD is indispensable on that road. I think the added clearance itself made the drive much more comfortable and there were a couple climbs up hills where hubby and I felt that we had much more control of our vehicle with 4WD.
    FWIW, the staff at Adventure Inn said that the road closures posted are basically guidelines. On light traffic days they will permit any cars on the road to pass through and close the road on more of a rolling basis through the day and may not close it at all. On heavy traffic days they’re more likely to adhere to the set schedule to keep things more standardized.
    In our case, we left SJO expecting major delays but it turned out those delays were due to the holiday traffic on Highway 1, not where we expected.
    Tomorrow we’ll head to Samara on 606/145 so will avoid the construction altogether. Will let you guys know how that goes!

  66. Hi!
    My partner and I will be renting from costarider- camper vans and will be seeing as much as we can in two weeks. Reading all of this has made me worry a bit because its a manual transmission. What do you think?

    1. Hi Lindsey, You will be okay with a manual transmission; the tough part will be if your camper van is not 4 wheel drive. Shuttle vans make the trip to Monteverde without 4×4, but their drivers know the roads well and those vans handle better than a camper. We’d probably skip Monteverde this time around if it’s not a 4×4, but you should be okay visiting most other places. Sounds like an exciting adventure!

  67. Took the 606 up to Santa Elena coming from Quepos on 5.4.2018.
    Reception of Gaia Hotel at Quepos had checked with the construction company to confirm there was no construction on that day.
    Of course there was. We had to wait for 90 minutes before the 3.00 opening. What followed was the maddest race up the dusty and still bumpy road you can imagine. Visibility: zero, unless you stay >100 metres behind the car in front, in which case even buses will attempt to pass you, with no consideration of oncoming traffic. No inch of the road is paved yet, they are only widening and leveling out, causing powdery dust to form 4-inch thick layers on the road at places. Our car was totally re-coloured from chocolate brown to light grey.

  68. Hi, we are driving a rental SUV from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde/Santa Elena on Sunday April 22. Any estimate on how long the drive could be and any updates on road conditions & construction on Highway 606?
    Also we are staying at Los Pinos Cabanas & Jardines? Curious about any recent reviews.

    1. Hi Mark, We just approved some comments from people who have posted in the last couple of weeks so scroll down to the newest comments. It seems that the construction is ongoing- they are still leveling/preparing the road and nothing is paved yet. Normally the drive from Manuel Antonio is about 4 hours so add an hour or so on for the construction and other delays.

      Los Pinos is a great spot- it’s one of our recommended hotels in Monteverde. Rustic but comfortable, quiet, and set in the forest. Enjoy!

  69. Jenn and Matt great travel blog! My wife and I just made the trip up Hwy 606 and the times the road is open have changed slightly. For the month of May the road is open before 6:30 am, 11:00 am to 12:00 noon, 3:00 p to 3:30 pm, and after 5:30 pm. Coming from Playa Grande it took us 3.5 hours to get to the closure, which is about half way up the dirt road.

    The road is rough in spots but safe. Conditions were dry but a vehicle with a sturdier suspension is a plus. Past the construction stop the road is very rocky, with one short narrow and sandy stretch. All in all not a bad way to go as you’ll be in good company.

    Happy trails,

  70. Hello
    We are going to Costa Rica May 28th, starting in Liberia to la fortuna, there two nights then to Monteverdi two nights .then to Play flamingo two nights.any suggestions on driving from la fortunate to Monteverde?
    We rented a 4wd suv. Thanks much!

    1. Hi Ruth, If you have a 4×4, you should be all set for the drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde. Just be sure to leave early enough so you’re not driving after dark. The dirt portion of the road after Tilaran might be rough since it is rainy season but just go slow. It’s a major route so you should see other cars, shuttle vans, etc.

  71. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    First, thanks for this amazing information – it’s been very helpful with our trip planning. We are headed to Costa Rica for the first week in July. We’ll first be traveling from San Jose to Monteverde, and the info above was (again) very helpful.

    After we are headed from Monteverde to Tamarindo. Any suggestions on the best way to get to Tamarindo?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Melanie, Check with your hotel, but as far as we know with the construction on Route 606, you will want to take Route 606 north and connect with Route 145, which goes all the way to Route 1 (see Google map above in post). Then you can use your GPS/maps app the rest of the way to Liberia and on to Tamarindo.

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt,
        Thanks for the recommendations above re- our travel. We got back last Sunday and had a wonderful trip! We traveled to Monteverde and Tamarindo. Anyhow, we took 1/Interamericana all the way to 145, then took that to Monteverde, and it was just fine. Plus provided stunning views along the way. We had a such a great time and are already planning on next trip. Thanks again! Hasta La Proxima!

        1. We are going in mid Feb-2019. the plan is to drive from SJO to Arenal to Monteverde to Manuel Antonio. We have booked full size sedan for 2 of us. Wondering if we should switch to SUV. Thoughts?

          1. Hi Naveen, It’s best to have a 4×4 vehicle for the drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde. At a minimum, you should have a 4×2 SUV with higher clearance to get over the ruts and bumps comfortably.

  72. HI there- great blog ! Im stuck with what to do for ONE night … i need a suggestion- see below
    I will be flying into SJO on a Fri night 8pm. Taxi to hotel, rental car will be delivered in the morning (Adobe)
    Overnight in Hotel Arenjuez- breakfast, walking down town couple hours
    Drive to Manuel Antonio- 3 nights there July 7-11
    Drive to ?? Monteverde. One night there.
    In La Fortuna we have a reservation for the 12-16.
    Where to stay and what to do for essentially 24 hours the 11th? We are into hiking and wildlife for sure. Reading posts it looks like the drive to the Monteverde Cloud forest is nausea inducing 🙁 and takes a long time. But I really want to experience this part of Costa Rica.
    What are you thoughts for one night in the Monteverde/Santa Elena area?

    We are arriving July 6, 2018
    Thank you !

    1. Hi Rene’, Since you’re due to arrive tomorrow, I think we are probably too late to help you out. But let us know if that’s not the case and we can give you some guidance on your question.

  73. Hi
    Thanks for your great web-site. We’ve used a lot of your recommendations to plan our two week trip in November.
    SJO – Adventure Inn – La Fortuna- Monteverde – Tarcoles – Manuel Antonio – SJO
    We’ve booked a 4WD from Adobe.
    What’s the status of 606? Is there a way to keep track of this?


    1. Hi Ed, We don’t know of anywhere where construction updates are provided about Route 606. One way to see how traffic is flowing is to check Waze– search Puntarenas Province, Santa Elena. We’d also recommend asking your hotel right before your trip; they’ll be the best source of current information.

  74. We drove from Quepos to Monteverde today (10/19/18). I would say half of the 606 is paved but it’s still steep, windy and other drivers aren’t afraid of passing or fast speeds. We didn’t have any road closures or paving to deal with. HOWEVER, when you reach the section that hasn’t been paved…WOW, just WOW!!! Steep, large ruts from rain runoff…really a rough drive. Don’t start up with a full bladder, you’ll pee your pants. I would never make this drive at night!!! That being said, buckle up and hang on because once you get to Monteverde itself it is incredible. Thanks so much for these tips, it was a great help to us! Safe & happy travels!

  75. HI!

    I’m traveling with my husband and two year old during the holidays. We land in SJO at 4PM on 12/25. We had originally planned to make the drive to Monteverde at this time but have decided against it due to the length and road conditions. Can you recommend either a midway point or hotel just outside of San Jose that would be good to explore as well?

    Thank you!

  76. Hello! I am so happy to have found your blog! My boyfriend and I have just booked our flights and hotels for a 7-day trip the first week of March. We are doing 2 nights in Monteverde, 4 nights in Manuel Antonio and then our last night will be in San Jose near the airport because we have an early flight out. We would very much prefer to rent an SUV however, our flight gets into SJO at 4:00 pm. We are concerned that this does not leave us a lot of daylight to get to Monteverde! Yikes… Any idea what time it is advisable to be off the roads that time of year? Also, any update on the 606? Wishing we booked an earlier flight! Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Sarah, If your flight lands at 4 pm, we would definitely recommend staying overnight and then getting an early start to Monteverde the next day. It gets dark in Costa Rica around 5:30 and we don’t recommend driving long distances at night. Here’s a link to our Best Hotels Near SJO post, which has some recommendations for nice places without an airport hotel feel. Regarding the conditions of Route 606, we recently approved a comment from Kelly on December 18, 2018, who reported that it wasn’t a bad drive. They do not seem to be doing work now, but keep in mind that could just be because of the holidays approaching. She did say, however, that most was paved so maybe it will all be done by March when you get here.

  77. Hi, we drove the 606 a few days ago, last part is still unpaved but road works are currently not ongoing, so you can easily drive all the way up to Monteverde. No time slots on which you are allowed to drive up there and as it’s dry season no mud, just dusty road ?

  78. This is so, so useful! I was very nervous about driving to Monteverdi given the descriptions of the road but after seeing the videos you took I’m not worried at all! (It’s very similar to some routes in Canada, where I’m from). Thanks so much for the detailed info! This is so helpful!

  79. We drove from Santa Elena to the Ruta 1 on Dec 29, 2018 using R606. The road is unpaved but completely passable. There were very few potholes. We saw no evidence of roadwork in progress (but it was a Saturday). From Guacimal the road is paved. The passage on the unpaved portion of 606 took about 30 minutes.

  80. Hello. This post is very helpful, and I’ve read the most recent comments. What is the status of the roadwork? I do have to say that reading the word “treacherous” scares the heck out of me. We visited Playa San Miguel – the trip from (and to) Puerto Carrillo to Playa San Miguel was the hardest we’ve ever done, please tell me the trip to Monteverde is easier! Cheers, Francis.

  81. We drove the La Fortuna – Monteverde route today (142-145-606). Although parts of the road are rocky/dirt I felt the drive was much better than expected.

    Our rental (a 2wd Hyundai) did a great job. Only some parts of the 145 and 606 are more rough with some putholes.

  82. We drove both ways (145-606 & 606) from the no. 1 highway recently and both have approximately 20 km of unpaved road; the first part uphill will be paved for both options. Where the 606 splits into the 605 and 606, then downward the 606 is paved. Uphill it has unpaved roads with some stones and potholes (I suppose it also depends on the season for now but we found it quite bumpy but durable). The 145 had a better view though imo. 😉

  83. Hi everybody, we are planning to drive from M.Antonio/Quepos to Monteverde at the end of April.
    Does anyone know if there are road closure?
    Thanks a lot!

  84. We drove up to Santa Elena today (24 feb, 2019) over the R606. The last 20km untill the town where unpaved and sometimes a bit steep, but it was good accessible in my opinion. We drove it all the way up without problems in our 2wd Toyata Yaris Superior. I don’t know how the R145 part is but the R606 is not something to stop you from going to Monteverde. Some small parts where bumpy but just take your time going up.

  85. We drove up the 606 to Monteverde today in dry and sunny conditions. The last 20 kilometres are still dust track and any idea that it was going to be paved during 2018 is a fantasy. It will take many, many years. However, the dust track is perfectly safe to drive during the dry season. It is bumpy and dusty and you would be advised to have a vehicle with high clearance. You also need to take your time, but the views are excellent. We came across one small section where road workers are excavating and the road was reduced to single file for several hundred yards, but we were only delayed for a couple of minutes. I cannot comment on the rainy season, but I guess 4WD would be necessary then.

  86. I am late posting our experience on the drive from SJO to Monteverde but here goes. In February 2019, the last part of 606 is still not paved, but it is well graded and in most sections wide enough to not cause any concerns in terms of two way traffic. We did have a 4×4 as we just didn’t want to worry about the road conditions. My experience is to go slow, don’t be in a rush and enjoy the views. I am from NH so dirt roads are familiar to me. This wasn’t a big deal and we had no stoppage of traffic during our trip up and down from Monteverde.
    We are planning a return trip in March, as we loved Costa Rica, and will be making the drive from Arenal to Monteverde and then to SJO Airport.
    Any new reports on the progress of paving 606 for those lost miles to Monteverde?
    Than you for your website it is very helpful. We used your discount for our car rental with Adobe and were very satisfied with their service.

    1. Hi Janet, Thanks for the trip report. As far as we know, they stopped and aren’t finishing the construction on 606 so the last part is still dirt. A lot of people are recommending to go on Route 145 instead since it’s in better shape. We need to do the drive ourselves soon and will update this post once we do.

      1. Hi there Jenn and Matt, very informative and great blog to read your travel experience and driving in Costa Rica!
        We will be travelling early April this year 2020 to Costa Rica, and are driving from the Arenal Area to Monteverde by SUV 4×4. Do you know about the current road conditions, especially from Tilaran on the Route 145 and from there Route 606 to Monteverde? Stil unpaved sections to be found?
        And how about driving in the area : can you drive e.g. to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and is this a gravelroad, or paved?
        From Monteverde we will drive to Manuel Antonio NP for a couple of nights, and what we we learned from your blog, that part of the Route 606 is fully paved now?
        After Manuel Antonio we will visit and stay in San Gerardo the Dota, do you have any roadcondition info on that part for Hwy 2 and at KMpoint 80 to go down to San Gerardo de Dota?
        Many thanks!

        1. Hi Thirza, Much of the road from Tilaran to Monteverde is still unpaved and rough dirt so an SUV with higher clearance is best (4×4 preferred). The road from Santa Elena to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is all paved now but there are some big potholes so you just have to go slower.

          Yes, 606 is fully paved to Route 1 so the drive to Manuel Antonio will be much easier.

          It’s all paved from Manuel Antonio to San Gerardo de Dota, but drive it during the daytime because the road is curvy, mountainous, and the clouds can roll in, making visibility limited. The side road down to San Gerardo is paved by has some huge potholes. It’s really curvy with switchbacks. Not bad at all, though, if you go slow. Hope that helps!

  87. Dear Jenn and Matt,

    I am planning a trip to Costa Rica in December, and plan to visit Monteverde from Guanacaste region and then from Monteverde to La Fortuna/Lake Arenal area. Will I need a 4×4 for these routes? Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Wenwen, Yes, you will want a 4×4 for the Monteverde to La Fortuna portion. The road from Monteverde to Tilaran is still rough dirt. People do it without 4×4 but we don’t recommend it unless the road has been recently graded.

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